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Advice needed....partner with kids, brand new and don't know what to do

(28 Posts)
SteelCityGirl Mon 11-Jul-11 17:20:55

I've had a look at some of the other threads on here before posting and am pretty sure I'm going to get some sound advice.

My partner has a beautiful 2 year old daughter from a brief relationship (four months), all over and done with before he met me. I like spending time with her and we seem to get on well, although my experience of kids is pretty limited. It's not her, it's her mum who I am struggling with. I want to be supportive of my partner but feel as though I am losing myself, taking my holiday time to spend with him and his daughter, while her mum has time to herself with her latest man. She's making plans for a ski-ing trip next year and I only find out about this over drinks with friends when my partner tells me he's taking a week off to be with his daughter. We don't get much time together as it is and I can feel I am starting to become resentful of the situation. Perhaps this says something about the relationship I have with my partner, I don't know.

How do I say something without sounding like a spoilt brat myself? I accept that I am the adult and children come first. It's honestly not the little one, I just feel it's so unfair that her mum gets what she wants. I feel as though my attitude towards her mum is clouding my relationship with my partner, possibly the child too, and I don't want that.

Perhaps I am just not ready to be with someone who has kids.

RockinSockBunnies Mon 11-Jul-11 17:26:50

How long have you been together? Do you see yourself with your DP long-term? Do you want to have children yourself at some point and do you have many childbearing years left in which to do this?

How much time does your DP spend with his daughter? What's the access arrangement?

Honestly, if you don't have children and are not desparate to have any just yet, it may well be easier to be with someone that doesn't have a child. It doesn't make you a bad person not to want to have to deal with the minefield that is step-parenting. I totally underestimated the impact that DP's son would have on our relationship and it's been extremely difficult at times. I adore DP and we're getting married next month, but I do sometimes think it might have been easier not to have fallen in love with someone with a crazy ex and a child......

theredhen Mon 11-Jul-11 18:57:54

No advice but I know exactly how you feel! To overhear that ex wife is off partying or putting her feet up while I haven't even been consulted that I will have 4 extra children to look after.

DP is very good now and talks to me before I overhear things, but it used to upset me a lot.

Some of the difficulty is feeling a lack of control in the situation. Having 4 extra kids around is hard work but it's better for me to be non resentful when they're here.

mdoodledoo Mon 11-Jul-11 19:00:24

I echo RSB's post and would add that if your DP wants to be in a relationship then he needs to ensure that the relationship is given time and attention too. Yes you're the adult & blah blah blah, but while any children are obviously important and need to be loved and nurtured...so does the adult relationship.

It is a rollercoaster and you may well decide that it's not the right time for you to hop on and ride it. With time I've come to realise that things I thought were critically important at the beginning have paled into insignificance as time goes by. You do have to give up a fair sized slice of yourself to be a parent and that also applies to step-parenting.

(Depending upon the access arrangements and relationship you have with you DSD) you are part of a blended family now...and families make sacrifices. BUT - you've got to feel valued, loved and nurtured in your relationship in order to hop on board.

ChaoticAngelofGryffindor Mon 11-Jul-11 20:08:37

Have you tried looking at it from a different angle. Instead of looking at it as the mother getting what she wants could you look at it as your partner spending extra time with the daughter he so obviously loves. It might make things a little easier.

Is it also possible for you and your partner to spend a week/end away just the two of you somewhere?

houseelfheave Mon 11-Jul-11 20:46:58

The reality is that many NRPs will take any opportunity they can to have their DCs with them. If that means they take their holiday to look after the DCs while their mum goes away, then thats what will happen.

I think the only problem you will have here is if your DP takes all of his holiday as time with his DD as, rightly, you won't get any time to holiday alone. He will probably see it as not having his dd around all the time, so wanting to grab any opportunity that he can to do it.

The only solutions are to live with it - tricky as it can breed resentment. Compromise - this will mean talking to your DP and saying that you would like some holiday time alone with him some time; or backing out of a relationship with someone who already has a child.

Being a SP is not easy. I got through with a mixture of a and b. I'd address it with your DP sooner rather than later.

SteelCityGirl Mon 11-Jul-11 21:55:59

Ladies, you rock! Thank you so much for that....nice to know I am not a monster :-)

RSB - he sees his daughter every weekend. Minimum, it's Sunday but sometimes Saturday & Sunday, increasingly Friday - Sunday and, sometimes of late, from Thursday to Monday. This is because her mum has long weekends away. They have no formal (legal) access arrangement. I'm 36 and I do see him as being the one for me; I've never been bothered about having my own kids and sometimes do resent the assumption that I will automatically step up and be a parent at weekends....I haven't got a clue. I know that's how everyone must feel if they've no previous experience. I don't know whether I'm doing something right or wrong and realise absolutely it's not my place to do anything which could be seen to be critical.

I think this also makes me realise I perhaps don't feel valued. Is it wrong to want some sort of thanks or recognition for being the one to get up at 7am on a Saturday to change a dirty nappy and play with his DD while he gets a lie-in?

ChaoaticAngel - wise words, I do love seeing the look on my DP's face when he's with his DD (sorry, taking me a while to learn these acronyms).

I'd love to be able to spend a weekend with DP. However, we are based in different cities although my job does mean I spend more time with him at the moment. Trying hard to make "date night" during a busy week when he's with his DD every weekend, not easy.

thanks again for your wise words, ladies. I feel better for reading them.

colditz Mon 11-Jul-11 21:59:08

"Is it wrong to want some sort of thanks or recognition for being the one to get up at 7am on a Saturday to change a dirty nappy and play with his DD while he gets a lie-in?"

Don't do it then. Stay in bed and make him get up with his own child.

Pandygirl Mon 11-Jul-11 22:04:58

Hi SCG,

I can understand why he wants to look after his DD whilst his Ex is on holiday, but surely she should return the favour? Unless you mean that she expects your DP to spend every one of his holidays looking after their DD, which is unacceptable.

DP and I have one or two holidays with the SS's, (long weekend at centreparks or similar) one or two weeks away in summer, then we have a week to ourselves.

We also see the SS's every weekend and a couple of nights in the week, but we live together so we get some evenings to ourselves (which is REALLY important).

Good luck!

SteelCityGirl Tue 12-Jul-11 12:22:14

Thanks Pandygirl - I reckon I need to talk to him and just need to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it.

Colditz - harsh but fair, thanks for the candid response.

Petal02 Tue 12-Jul-11 12:35:15

Steelcitygirl - you're not a monster, the whole step family thing is really hard, and I totally understand where you're coming from. Finding this site was a revelation to me, because I thought I was the only one who struggled.

elastamum Tue 12-Jul-11 13:42:26

SCG, when I read your original post if rang some alarm bells with me. You have a problem with his ex as she wants to spend time with her partner (latest man?? hmm) and your partner (and now you) are spending a lot of time looking after HIS daughter.

But she is HIS child and there is no reason why she shouldnt spend even 50% of her life with him. Shared parenting isnt all that common, buts that what it means. I dont think it is reasonable to deflect your resentment at your current situation onto her mother, who is also entitled to date and have a life outside of looking after their daughter. Good on your partner for doing his share, he sounds really nice.

It is tough on you if thats not what you signed up for, but thats what dating a parent is like. My advice would be talk to your partner about how you feel. If he is in agreement see if he can establish a schedule so you both know when you will be responsible for his daughter and when you might have some time alone together.

Depending on how he reacts and how you feel, you will know if you have a future long term as his daughter will and always should be his number one priority. Sorry, but thats what being a good parent means.

SteelCityGirl Tue 12-Jul-11 15:03:52

Thanks for the honesty, elastamum. Yes, he is a good guy and I appreciate he's doing his best. I don't dispute his daughter comes first - she's a child, she didn't ask for this. Although not a parent myself, I do understand that children are a number one priority and I would think less of him if he didn't prioritise her.

I am resentful of her mum, yes. The woman has had a string of brief relationships in the last year which worries my DP as he doesn't know who his daughter is around, changes plans at the last minute (which disrupt ours and the plans we've made with his daughter) and is hard work. He's admitted he doesn't want to upset her because it could make life difficult with regard to his daughter and I feel it's very unfair that HE is in that situation. He feels he was, and I quote, "good for two things: giving her a child and paying for it". I am angry at the woman, she's a bloody parasite.

mdoodledoo above summed it up well - guess I need to feel valued and to know there is a future with this man in order to "hop on board".

Petal02 - yep, it's hard. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

thanks to you both for posting, appreciate you taking the time.

LittleWhiteHeart Tue 12-Jul-11 15:36:27

Hi SCG and welcome to the world of being a stepmum (or 'Daddy's Girlfriend' in my case)

3 years in to being a stepmum, with no children of my own all I can say is this forum has been such a relevation. Life as a stepmum can be fraught and difficult, I promise there will be tears and arguments but it can also be loads of fun - I love having my DP's little one around.

The biggest thing I've learnt in the last three years is the ability to let go - it's tough and I really struggled before I came across this forum. In fact I daren't even think of myself as a 'parent' before I came across Mumsnet!

Your partner will always want to see his daughter (and she will ALWAYS be part of his - and your life) and he'll probably always prioritise seeing her, but imagine what kind of guy he'd be if he didn't? Please do speak to him when you feel a wobble coming - most guys don't even pick up on the fact their other half is fuming/teary/exasperated/exhausted.

As for the ex, you have to really try (and it's difficult) to feel empathy for her. I wouldn't want to be a lone parent, and I wouldn't want to be seen as acting in the sometimes downright selfish and childish manner my DP's ex does, so take the moral high ground, hold your head high and gird your loins what's going to be the ride of your life ...

Welcome on board!

TobyLerone Tue 12-Jul-11 15:48:54

Why is it any of your business what the child's mum does when your partner has his daughter?

I don't mean to sound harsh, and you have taken any implicit criticism very well on this thread, OP, but I don't understand your resentment of her spending her own time as she chooses.

SteelCityGirl Tue 12-Jul-11 16:14:26

Thanks LWH, much appreciated!....understand how you feel and thanks for the advice. I do like spending time with my DP's daughter, she's a really lovely little person to be with.

TobyLerone - dead right, is it any of my business? This is something I am struggling with at the moment because I don't like to see my DP upset. The child's mum spends her money on weekends away with friends and then says she can't afford to take her daughter away on holiday. This upsets DP because he's had family and friends say she only wanted a daughter as fashion accessory. The fact she has had a number of very short relationships is also a concern for him as he doesn't know who his daughter is exposed to. And that makes me angry....I know it's childish to think "but that's not fair!" and yet that's just how I feel. It's not so much being resentful of how she spends her time, it's more that I don't think she cuts DP much slack. He works full time and has no free weekends; she works part-time and has a lot of long weekends to herself (see above post).

Ultimately, I could be told "you're not a mum, you don't know how it feels". And I have to accept that but it's really not easy. I am grateful for the advice on here, critical or not....and it's not always implicit, either :-)

thanks again to everyone, I really appreciate it

brdgrl Tue 12-Jul-11 16:16:51

I think I get it. I don't have an ex in the picture - DH ws a widower - so I haven't commented on this thread previously, and I admit I may be missing something.

But in the last year, I went from being a childless woman with a full social life, an attentive boyfriend, and a lot of independence, to being in a family of five, a full-time parent of three (my own and the two stepkids). I love my family, don't get me wrong, but I also have times of feeling quite sorry for myself.

If First Wife were out there and I felt (maybe not fairly or realistically, but if I FELT) that she were getting to have the good times that I was no longer getting, I can't promise I would not feel resentment. If I felt that I was not getting a holiday at all, and looking after the kids instead, whilst she had a lovely holiday...or if I was feeling like I had precious little time with DH anyway, and now I was unexpectedly getting a bit less of it...well, yeah, I can see how I might be struggling with it, and on top of that I would be feelingguilty about my feelings! (I'm sorry if I sound like a terrible person given that I am speaking about someone who has died and so clearly is NOT out having lovely holidays - just trying to put myself in a fictional mindset IYSWIM!)

So, I guess I just wanted to say in OP's 'defense' that I think it is a natural enough way to feel, especially given that this is all quite a new situation. It is SUCH a life change once kids enter your life, and as the new partner of a guy with kids, you don't have time to get used to the changes, they just pile up very very quickly.

TobyLerone Tue 12-Jul-11 16:30:46

You sound awesome, OP, and I really hope you can come to terms with this and work it out between you. You sound like you would be a really good influence on that little girl.

I just can't help but see it from the mum's POV -- I hate to think of my exH and his new fiancée talking about me like this (I know that they do) because it makes my children upset when they hear it. I'm sure you don't do this, but they do pick up on it, especially as they get older (mine are 10 and 11 and are sick to death of hearing their father and his gf slagging me off for no reason).

I have never taken my children on holiday abroad because to be honest, I can't afford to spend almost £1000 in one go. We go on days out and often camping for a week or so, and they have holidays with their dad and grandparents.
And when they're with their dad (every other weekend), yes, I might go away with my partner. Sometimes I go to festivals. Yes, this stuff is expensive, but my children are not missing out because of it.

I work full-time and don't live with my partner, so all housework/cooking etc falls to me. I know that my ex moans about me because, for instance, the children have said we've stayed in all day at a weekend (because I have had a week's worth of laundry to do!). He's even moaned at me because apparently I should do the week's shopping at a time the children aren't with me, so that they don't have to come hmm

Meh, I'm rambling, but just perhaps trying to put things from a mum's perspective.

Of course, your partner's ex might be taking the piss grin

ChaoticAngelofGryffindor Tue 12-Jul-11 16:42:37

SCG does your DP have PR? If not it might be worth his while applying for it.

SteelCityGirl Tue 12-Jul-11 17:32:53

Again, many thanks....am in respect of the collective wisdoms and advice given here.

brdgrl - I get you completely. I try not to feel resentful because that does make me feel guilty. I chase DP's little one around the park and she giggles at me and I think "bless you, you didn't ask for this". I got cross when she was collected from DP's on Sunday and loaded into a car, driven my a man my DP hadn't met and he wasn't even introduced to him. That can't be right?

I do appreciate being advised to see this from the mum's perspective, I really do. Please be assured I would never criticise the child's mum in front of the child and don't even like to say anything to my DP as it's such a sensitive issue. That's what girlfriends (and now, mumsnet!) is for and I do sound off to get it out of my system! I understand parenting isn't about all the cool stuff in life....trips to the zoo or the park, a visit to the seaside but that it's also about getting up in the night, being the bad guy and saying "no" and yes, trips to the supermarket (one way to teach kids about healthy eating?).

TobyLerone: Thanks for the vote of confidence about being a good influence grin Bet your're a great mum and your kids love you to bits.

ChaoticAngel - what is PR? Sorry, can't find it in list of acronyms.

Again, ladies, I thank you....this site is brilliant.

ChaoticAngelofGryffindor Tue 12-Jul-11 20:25:42

Sorry, PR is parental responsibility.

Link

Click on the link and it'll take you to the government website and tell you more about it.

If your DP is on the birth certificate then he should already have it but if not then it should be worth applying for as it will give him certain rights.

elastamum Tue 12-Jul-11 21:56:21

SCG, did your partner get exes permission for you to meet his daughter??

One of the issues you have, is that unless there are real concerns surrounding the care of his daughter it is none of your business how she chooses to live her life. You cant assume that because she has dated several men that her daughter has spent time with them all, and indulging other peoples negative bitching about her will only serve to make you feel bitter. Its like drinking a botle of poison every day and expecting the other person to die!

You need to seperate out the important stuff. i.e. your relationship, from the sniping at his ex. Remember, everyone who isnt a LP, is always a better parent than those who are doing the job on their own day in day out.

I'm a LP with a partner who also has children. His children come first for him. Mine come first for me. Its not that we are not important to each other thats just the way it is. How he cares for his kids is just one of the things I love about him smile

SteelCityGirl Wed 13-Jul-11 11:05:32

Yes, elastamum, my DP did ask his child's mum if it was okay for the child to meet me and she agreed.

"Remember, everyone who isnt a LP, is always a better parent than those who are doing the job on their own day in day out" - I'm not suggesting this for a moment and apologies if you've taken it as such. Thank you for sharing your perspective, as a mum. I appreciate that, and recognise everyone's perspective is based on their own experiences. There is a wealth of these which is great.

Thanks ChaoticAngel for the explanation, will check out the link you've sent.

Thanks to all for sharing your experiences, advice much appreciated.

theredhen Wed 13-Jul-11 12:55:18

Having been a lone parent anda step parent. Being a long parent is much easier!

theredhen Wed 13-Jul-11 12:56:23

Lone not long.

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